Attribution: IgnitionOne Gives Marketers Another View

IgnitionOne will unveil features Tuesday to its Digital Marketing Suite (DMS) that allow marketers to compare multiple attribution profiles from the Analytics section of the tool. Each attribution path will show the credit attributable to media, such as display, search, video and social ads.

The tool allows marketers to test attribution profiles that are not based on the last-click model. It also gives marketers better insights to determine the best attribution profile and to enable them to make it actionable with automated optimization.

"If your attribution strategy is only looking at conversion data, you are missing out on 97% of the information available," said Eric Carlyle, SVP and knowledge architect at IgnitionOne. "Pay attention to media that helps drive the often-ignored middle funnel. This can be made possible by optimizing media that drives engagement in addition to conversions."

Carlyle said other than giving credit to multiple exposures, there are other aspects of a sophisticated attribution model that marketers must manage. The ability for marketers to prioritize one channel over another is important. Marketers may undervalue the media driving the acquisition if it leads to someone signing up for an email, for example -- which takes the credit on a last click. With tiering, a select channel could get credit regardless of the path.

Attribution becomes increasingly complex as more media becomes part of the mix. George Michie, CEO at Rimm-Kaufman Group, outlined the barriers to understanding attribution and provided an example of attributing each touch to a winning point in Game Seven of the NBA finals. He asked during last week's MediaPost Search Insider Summit whether credit goes to the player in-bounding the ball to another player, or to the player who shot the ball through the hoop.

Michie also asked how marketers deal with a change in trusted metrics relied on for years as online advertising matures and changes. Year-over-year performance numbers could start to decline dramatically, and remain down for nearly a year with the change of an attribution model that now takes more than one media channel into consideration. It becomes a reality that display advertising could weigh down the performance and return on investment of search campaigns, explains Tim Schaeffer, search engine marketing (SEM) manager at Zappos.com.

"There is no choice; you have to attribute," Schaeffer said, explaining how to present it to company C-Level execs. "This is the future -- sink or swim. It may make your numbers look worse, but that's reality. Your competitors are doing it, and they will beat you if you're not using the right attribution."

Too many marketers look at attribution as an afterthought, or don't take into consideration that several forms of media contribute to the overall positive or negative effects. Some marketers believe companies need to design an organizational structure to support the technology, which Forrester Research labels as immature. In a Forrester Wave report published Monday, Forrester points to five of the more than 60 vendors as having strong methods and tools. They include Visual IQ and ClearSaleing, followed by GroupM, Adobe, and Convertro.

Forrester defines attribution as the "measurement of the partial value of each interactive marketing contact that contributed to a desired outcome." In the past three years, the technology supported by companies like Adobe, Adometry, C3 Metrics, ClearSaleing, Convertro, Google, IBM, and Visual IQ has been greatly improved.

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